The new season of Dancing With the Stars (season 19) begins on Monday. Fans of the show will see some familiar faces like Mark Ballas, Cheryl Burke, Tony Dovolani, Karina Smirnoff, and Derek Hough. But this year a new face enters the professional scene and marks a first for the popular ABC show.
Keoikantse (Keo) Motsepe, who is paired with Olympian Lolo Jones, comes from South Africa where he began dancing when he was five years old after his best friend talked him into trying it for fun. In his home country he has won every national dance title, including the South African Latin American Champion in which he remains undefeated, and has danced on the “Burn the Floor” world tour since 2012. Now being on DWTS is a dream come true for Motsepe.
“Me being the first black, non-white dancer in the show, obviously there’s something special about me, there’s something the producers saw,” Motsepe said. “I’m very honored and feel very blessed about that. For me it’s about making history in my life and making history in the world.”
Even though the show has had African-American contestants in the past, Motsepe is excited to be the first professional.
“The other day I was in tech [rehearsal] and a guy goes to me, ‘Wait, are you doing ‘Dancing With the Stars?’ He said … ‘Now I’m going to start watching.’ If one non-white person can think like that, the word-of mouth is the biggest tool in the world.”
So far, Motsepe is pleased with the rehearsals and with Jones, his partner.
“This competition is very healthy and very strong,” he says. “We just want to have fun for the first day and see how this goes. Everyone has something different about them – there are people who have rhythm, people who are fast, people who have funny ideas or sexy ideas.”
It appears that Motsepe has also recently started his own Twitter account.
— Keo Motsepe (@keodancer) August 19, 2014
Some of Motsepe’s dance history is chronicled in the video below. He can also be seen on DWTS starting on Monday, September 15 at 8 p.m. on ABC.